What Surgery Means for Trans Folk, Part 2

To Cut or Not to Cut

Me, at Olbrich Botanical Gardens, 2 weeks post-surgery.

As I noted in my last post, surgery doesn’t make the trans person. Nor do a psych eval, therapy, or an endocrinologist versed in trans care. Though not required, they helped me on an 18-month journey to surgery in which I learned even more about myself, body, heart, and mind. I took 50 years to realize I'm trans. Every day since my surgery two years ago has been a continued blossoming.

I took 50 years to realize I'm trans. Every day since my surgery two years ago has been a continued blossoming.

Impact of HRT

Sixth months into transition, I started hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Pundits blather about HRT's physical effects but miss its most profound impact—the mental and emotional balance it brings. After a week of estradiol and testosterone blockers, I asked Pam, “Is this what life is really like? No gnawing anxiety, no numbing depression? No constant vigilance of my status, behavior, and presentation? No eternally simmering anger?”

Gone was the nameless regret I’d always felt. In its place came compassion—for myself and others. The simmering anger was replaced with an empathy and forbearance that had been sapped by decades of putting up with myself.

I felt a peace and joy that all would proceed as it was meant to.

The Surgery I Chose

Months of research into more than 50 providers in the U.S. and abroad led to a call from Dr. Katherine Gast at the University of Wisconsin Health in Madison to confirm my surgery. Though the procedure would not be for another four months, I felt a peace and joy that all would proceed as it was meant to.


My biggest decision came down came down to practical considerations. I chose vulvoplasty (also known as minimal-depth vaginoplasty) because: